Trump keeps it apolitical in first appearance since indictment comments
Former President Donald Trump received a hero’s welcome during his first outing since claiming he would be arrested and charged by Manhattan prosecutors this Tuesday.
Trump was the personal guest of Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday. He sat in an ensconced box with Mullin and Gov. Kevin Stitt, also a Republican. Both men have endorsed the former president in his 2024 reelection bid.
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Reporters were largely kept away from the 2024 GOP frontrunner, though he briefly shouted to Tulsa World that there would be “no politics” that evening. That statement was as true as it could be for a presidential candidate doing crowd work with thousands of voters. He did not participate in any fundraisers or deliver a speech, just hours after posting on his Truth Social platform that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office would arrest him this week on charges related to hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016.
The 45th president received a standing ovation as he entered the arena, which saw nearly 17,000 fans in attendance for the tournament. Trump was seen shaking hands and posing with the national champions as they left the mat, as well as others in the massive crowd.
“My boys actually made the ask down in Mar-A-Lago when we were down there,” Mullin told Tulsa World of how Trump ended up at the championship. “When he found out it was going to be in Tulsa, he said, ‘I’ll be there.’”
“The presidents coming here because he’s a big fan of wrestling, he’s always said that,” he told local station Fox 23. “I don’t know if you guys know this or not, but he wrestled a little bit himself and he wants to come here have a good night and leave politics out of it.”
Trump released his Saturday statement following a growing number of reports about Bragg’s plans to indict him on charges related to the Stormy Daniels matter.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified before Congress in 2019 that he paid Daniels, an adult film star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000 during the 2016 campaign to prevent her from going public about an affair she claimed to have with Trump in 2005. Cohen, who pleaded guilty and served time over the alleged payment, told lawmakers Trump reimbursed him in monthly installments.
It is unclear what charges Bragg’s office is mulling against Trump. Prosecutors in the Cohen case alleged that the Trump Organization “falsely accounted” for the monthly payments as legal expenses. Falsifying business records in New York technically amounts to a misdemeanor. To elevate it to a low-level felony, prosecutors in the Trump case must show that the conduct was committed in connection with another crime and the former president’s “intent to defraud.”
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Trump’s Truth Social post unleashed on Bragg and urged his supporters to “protest, take our nation back.”
Without mentioning Trump’s post by name, Politico reported Saturday evening, Bragg sent an email to employees stating that “we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York. Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place so all 1,600 of us have a secure work environment.”